[OVC-discuss] White House Uses Open Source To Open Government

From: Alan Dechert <dechert_at_gmail_dot_com>
Date: Mon Oct 26 2009 - 15:50:22 CDT

I think this bodes well for open source voting.


White House Uses Open Source To Open Government

The Whitehouse.gov site now runs the open source Drupal content
management system, which includes social networking tools that can be
used for communications and participatory government.

By J. Nicholas Hoover, InformationWeek
Oct. 26, 2009

The White House Web site now runs on open source. Over the weekend,
Whitehouse.gov moved to a software stack that includes the open source
Drupal content management system and Apache Solr search server.

One of the main reasons for the change was to build more collaboration
features into WhiteHouse.gov, according to the Obama administration. In
addition to providing content management, Drupal supports blogs,
comments, polls, and the ability to create user profiles.

"We wanted to improve the tools used by thousands of people who come to
Whitehouse.gov to engage with White House officials, and each other, in
meaningful ways," White House spokesman Nick Shapiro said in an e-mail.
"We now have a technology platform to get more and more voices on the
site. This is state-of-the-art technology, and the government is a
participant in it."

Drupal creator Dries Buytaert said cost cutting and flexibility also
factored into the switch in platforms. Buytaert is co-founder and CTO of
commercial open source software company Acquia, which helped in
development of the site.

"It's a great fit because they want to reduce costs and be able to act
quickly, and Drupal provides them the modularity to do so," Buytaert
said in an interview. "Drupal gives them a traditional content
management system combined with social features, which enables open
communication and participation, which aligns very well with the goals
of the Obama administration."

Other vendors involved in the project include Akamai, General Dynamics,
Terremark for Web hosting, and Drupal development company Phase II.

In a statement on behalf of advocacy group Open Source for America, Bill
Vass, president and COO of Sun Microsystems Federal, points to the open
source Web platform as evidence of Obama's push for open, transparent
government. "By choosing open source software as the defining technology
of Whitehouse.gov, it is clear that the President means business," Vass

It's not the first time that the Obama administration has demonstrated a
propensity for open source. Federal CIO Vivek Kundra sometimes mentions
open source along with cloud computing for their potential in lowering
IT costs. Other federal agencies that use Drupal include the Departments
of Defense, Commerce, and Education and the General Service

However, Drupal isn't necessarily a cure-all for government IT. The
first version of stimulus-tracking site Recovery.gov ran on Drupal, but
switched to Microsoft's SharePoint. And Drupal has been criticized by
some for complexities that hinder usability.

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Received on Sat Oct 31 23:17:07 2009

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